Sunday, November 10, 2013


And, welcome to the GA.

This piece is about false equivalency and stupidity.

Those reading this Blog would be almost unanimous in our belief that there is no equivalency between, for example, Aipac and JStreet --- infact, merely placing them side-by-side in a sentence is an insult to Aipac. Now, in an attempt at what JFNA must perceive as "fairness," it, too, has created an equivalency where none has existed or should.  

Some of you may remember that months ago we recommended on these pages that JFNA join Women of the Wall in a Rally of support for their efforts and for all efforts at Jewish Peoplehood by bringing together the leaders of WOW and the GA as one. I actually thought that JFNA leadership had revamped the GA Program to do so. Maybe they still will...but...but, of course, we must seem to be "fair" to all points of view, mustn't we; even if one of those points of view is antithetic to the very construct of a civil society -- the "civil society" about which JFNA professionals talk and write but on which they apparently just can't bring themselves to act.

In his piece above, the Blogger Jonah Lowenfeld discloses that "women on both sides of the Kotel debate to share stage at JFNA GA. Here are the parties: Women of the Wall ("WOW") -- struggling for years on behalf of women and, in reality, on behalf of all of us who believe that the Kotel belongs to the entire Jewish People: women, men, children, the gay community, all of us -- and a group established six months ago, Women For the Wall ("W4W") -- a group established to oppose any and all change in "the current restrictions that prohibit women from collectively praying together at the kotel." One group -- WOW - as "aligned" with the efforts of Sharansky and the federations, the other -- with the discriminatory, often violent, "tradition" of keeping those with whom they don't agree away from this holy Place

Up to this point in time, efforts to bring the two groups together on a panel have been rejected by WOW as "media stunts." But, a panel at the GA, to be moderated by CEO Jerry and postured as bringing these two groups "together for the first time" without regard for the fact that one has supported our system and has been supported by it, the other opposes all that is embodied in the words "civil society" -- JFNA, in what one supposes is rationalized as "fairness" (let's hear all sides" as if there are two "sides") creates a terrible false equivalency. The message of W4W is one of exclusion cloaked in the false thesis of "tradition;" the message of WOW is one of inclusion.

And, by structuring a Panel in this way -- as a true media event -- JFNA appears less interested in taking the right position, in taking any position, than it is in self-promotion. But, what else is new?

And, let's close out the JFNA GA numbers game -- because that's what it is -- with this: JFNA is papering the house. While claiming a Registration price for Israelis (as is true for "locals" at GAs in the Continental U.S., if your NGO has paid for an exhibition booth, your participants appear to be granted credentials and are, thereby, counted as a Registrant. Yep, that's how CEO Jerry claims "3,000" -- you add 100's maybe close to 1,000 "locals" who pay no registration and you invite in MASA and Birthright young men and women, maybe you give a free pass to 100 North American supporters of Women of the Wall and count all of them as "Registrants" and throw in many other "locals" who are "friends" of JFNA-Israel or Sheatufim, you remember "our partner," you will get to "3,000" (not really). It's almost as if JFNA representatives spot an unsuspecting Israeli and it's "p'sssst, how about coming to the GA? On us." As one of the FOB said: "Figures lie...and liars figure." That is until the JFNA Chairs ask for the data. Then, it's over.

P.S. The Jerusalem Post has it right in its GA headline: "100s Gather in Jerusalem..." That's right, "100s."


P.S. I have been told by one who was present at the Session that it was both excellent and informative.



Paul Jeser said...

paul jeser has left a new comment on your post "EVEN WHEN THEY DO GOOD...GA EDITION":

WoW / W4W discussion:

To begin with, I agree 100% with your description of both groups. And, personally, I agree 100% with the WoW.

My hesitation is that there are many in the Federation, pro-Israel communities who don't - meaning, most traditionally observant Jews, who will side with W4W and not WoW.

The bigger question is American Jewish involvement in an Israeli political issue, and make no mistake, the issue is much more political than religious. The bigger issue of course is the political clout of the religious community in Israel.

As I believe we, as American Jews who do not pay Israeli taxes or serve in the IDF, do not have the moral right to tell the democratically elected government what to do with other issues, the same holds for this issue.

If they believe change is necessary, then the non-traditional community needs to get more people to make aliyah and vote for change. As it stands now, most of those making aliyah from America are traditional Jews who will strengthen the W4W position.

I think hearing from both groups at a forum (as described) will be beneficial to American GAers who come from both the traditional and non-traditional communities.

Anonymous said...

Too bad you missed the session. The young woman representing Women for the Wall acquitted herself well despite her nervousness, and the result was an interesting discussion with a much more thoughtful airing of her side's views than most North Americans have received.

joebrown42 said...

I was at the GA. A very Israeli GA, by all accounts.
Also, I heard good things about that panel.
I was at the Gandyr Foundation event, which was wonderful, very inspiring.
Joe Brown Leer

paul jeser said...

Dozens of blogs from the GA: